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No mere metaphor is the fact that the
traditional Vietnamese terms for "country" translate as "mountain and
river" or simply "water"
Strung on a network of rivers between the mountains and the sea, Vietnam is a landscape of moody alpine fogs hovering over thatch-roofed villages nestled in forests of rain. Vast expanses of reflective paddy fields posturing rice stands through which gentle breezes eddy. Lacework deltas fretted with canals carrying fertile mud recently arrived from China, and boiling white beaches guarded by island sentinels.
Life forms evolved upon this land to husband the wealth of resources its nature provided. This social mirroring of the natural surroundings extended even into city life.
"Hanoi" means the "inside of the river" and the name "Saigon" may have been derived from "cay gon" which refers to the poles sunk in the alluvial mud upon which the houses were built.
Hoi An has many different characters; it is a cultural world heritage because of it's well kept center city with small houses, all build in the 16th or 17th century, it is a beach tourist heaven with long white sandy beaches, it is a quiet small town at the same time as it is a busteling tourist location.